Why, oh why do we let developers get away with landscape felonies like
- Sodding with water thirsty, disease prone St Augustine grass in central Texas
- planting Ligustrum, Indian Hawthhorne, Privet, Pampas Grass, and other totally inappropriate or invasive plants.
- Volcano mounding of mulch around newly planted tree for aesthetic appearances – a potentially deadly mistake.
It’s the cheapest materials they can use to maximize their profit and provide an instant “good look” to the property they are trying to sell, and/or
They just don’t have any landscaping or horticultural expertise on board, and/or
They don’t care because once a sale is made, it’s not their problem.
They win, the home purchaser loses.
What inspired this writing was a plea for help from a young couple who purchased a home 3 months earlier but didn’t know much about landscaping. The house is about 10 years old and has confederate jasmine climbing over the second story windows and roof, ligustrums out of control, upright junipers impeding the entryway, and pampas grass planted to hide utility boxes near the sidewalk. This is typical of many similar situations where home purchasers inherit the malpractice of the developers in creating future problems that won’t be their responsibility once the home is sold.
What if, developers offered a reduced price (landscaping allowance) to allow a new homeowner the freedom to landscape properly from the get-go by a professional of their choice or allowed the buyer to choose what goes in initially – including the wise choice of water-wise plantings. It would make more sense to sell a new home property with a blank landscaping palate so there won’t be a price to pay in the future. A new home purchaser should consider that if you don’t have time or incentive to do it right the first time, where is the time and resources to redo it . The home owner pays twice, up front, and to fix it later.
What if, in our critical water crisis in central Texas, cities could require water wise landscapes and have that as part of the inspection process? Landscapes consume over 30% of our water usage and that could be drastically reduced by wise up-front landscape planning.
What if purchasers of existing homes took landscaping into consideration in negotiating a purchase price – reduced home value due to expense necessary to remove and replace overgrown or unsightly landscapes. On the other hand, the value of mature trees adds to property value, In shopping for a new home, most people pay full attention to the structure and layout of the building but hardly any attention to the property itself. Hidden costs lurk everywhere, interior and exterior.
So if this article doesn’t seem to relate to gardening, reconsider that thought. There is considerable expense related to maintenance of a yard and related landscaping, plus water restrictions due to severe drought, and much of these impacts can be minimized by up-front landscape planning. In addition, curb appeal is dollars in the bank if you ever have to sell a home. Exterior decorating is as important as interior decorating as it is the only part that is publically seen.
If builders would incorporate energy efficient and resource conservation features in homes such as solar panels, and water-wise landscapes during new construction, it is easier and far less expensive to the home buyer to pay any additional cost as part of a mortgage as compared to having to pay a higher price for rehab work later.
If you currently have a landscape that needs reworking, don’t wait until it’s time to sell your house to improve it, but do landscape renovation now so you can enjoy the benefits while living there, help reduce water usage, and reduce your maintenance work and cost. It’s the old “pay me now or pay me later” scenario that will make your up-front investment pay off down the road.
Of course, I must conclude with the strong recommendation that all landscapes in central Texas should be water-wise, using native and adaptive plants, for both newly developed and existing properties.